Ochsner Health has told employees that 770 positions will be eliminated today.
According to its website the company has more than 36,000 employees and over 4,600 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 47 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South.
Ochsner operates multiple facilities in Acadiana, including Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center and Ochsner Lafayette General Orthopedic Hospital. It is Louisiana's largest hospital system and one of the largest private employers as well.
We reached out to Ochsner for more information about how this will impact the Ochsner employees who live here in Acadiana. The told us that today is a difficult day, and they won't be doing interviews as they're focused on the members of their team that they're losing, as well as those who are losing co-workers.
However, they did want to emphasize that these layoffs won't affect patient care.
"This absolutely will not impact our ability to care for our patients and communities. Our patients and communities can continue to depend on us for the excellent, compassionate care they expect from Ochsner," they told us.
Also, they said that there are no plans for an additional systemwide workforce reduction.
"Despite progress and our significant efforts to reduce expenses, we need to do more to ensure we can continue to deliver on our mission and meet the needs of the patients and communities we serve," the email sent to employees today states. "Today, we are taking the difficult step of reducing the size of our workforce by eliminating 770 positions, which represents roughly 2 percent of our team. Impacted positions are management and primarily non-direct patient care roles."
The email, from CEO Pete November, states that no physicians will be impacted, and that any impacted employee with active clinical credentials will be offered a direct patient care role. You can read it for yourself here.
The email states that anyone impacted by the layoffs will have a meeting today to give them information about what happens next and what support Ochsner is offering.
Every employee who is laid off will get full pay and benefits for up to 65 days, as well as a severance package. Career suport, wellness resources and information about applying for other jobs with Ochsner also are promised.
The email also states that mental health support is always offered for employees facing life challenges.
"I know this news about colleagues we all care about is hard to hear," the email states. "We are here to listen and support you in the days and weeks ahead, and I encourage you to reach out with whatever questions or help you need."
November says in the email that Ochsner is not the only health company facing challenges.
"Healthcare providers across the country have experienced increased labor costs, a shortage of patient care clinicians, high inflation and the end of pandemic relief funding from the government," he writes.
We reached out to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority about this news, and received the following statement from LEDA’s president and CEO, Mandi Mitchell.
"We are aware of the layoffs at Ochsner and have been in communication with leadership to discuss the impact in the region and ways we will work together to assist the displaced employees. LEDA will work closely with Ochsner, Louisiana Workforce Commission, and Acadiana Workforce Solutions to connect impacted workers with other employment opportunities in the region. LEDA hosted a job fair on Tuesday with more than 125 participating employers that are actively hiring in the region. Additionally there are a number of quality job offerings posted on LEDA's online job board. We commit to supporting the individuals who will be displaced as a result of Ochsner's workforce reductions.
"While the announced reductions at Ochsner will affect around 2% of the company's regional employee base, we've been assured that Ochsner's ability to meet patients' healthcare needs will not be affected or diminished in any way as a result of the reductions.
"Like many other industry sectors, nationally, healthcare systems are grappling with rising costs driven by fallout from the pandemic. Healthcare remains one of our largest industries by employment base in the parish, and we expect to continue serving as the hub for primary and healthcare services for the entire Acadiana Region.
"We defer any other questions to Ochsner with regard to the company's announcement."